I want to explore the changing role of design. Develop a practice on critical and speculative design, to PROVOKE designers with new research, theories, and understandings, that can influence the practice of design. Work in interventions to be put in the world and find connections between them to CRITICALLY RETHINK THE ROLE OF DESIGN AND ARTS.





infrastructure and scale | interactions and communication | production | digital and prototyping

Fabacademy Reflections

week 18 | week 17 | week 16 | week 15 | week 14 | week 13 | week 12 | week 11 | week 8 | week 7 | week 6 | week 5 | week 4 | week 3 | week 2 | week 1

Challenge 4 - Infrastructure and Scale

For this last challenge, we had agreed with Clément that I would help him with his final intervention. For some delays in his material order it hasn’t been possible, so he kindly offered to collaborate with me and Jana’s final intervention.

We are presenting out project Nomadic Box. To do that we wanted to create an “online exhibition” where we could share the resulting pieces and reflection gathered during our research process. The idea was to develop a virtual universe of 3D objects that would allow the user to explore them as well as see the information attached to it.

For doing so, we have been exploring how to use Three.js, a JavaScript library. Pietro has really helped with that, as neither of us had any experience with JS. There are a lot of examples and very good documentation, that has helped us go through the process of building this virtual space. It has been a very nice experience, as going step by step has allowed the three of us to understand what where we doing, as well as having a first deep approach to JS that may be useful if we want to continue exploring this language in the future.

On key part of the project was to get the 3D objects. After some research and test we found an iOS app, Trnio, that has worked nicely for our purpose. Although being quite small objects, the app did a good job scanning them. For a 5 € cost we got a very good tool that has been very easy and fast to use and allowed to export the objects in an .obj format, perfect for our Three.js that needed textures. I think I may use it more often in the future, seeing how easy it is to use.

After the scan we imported the objects to Meshmixer. It was suggested by Edu. I had used some years ago on another project, but completely forgot about it. It is very simple to use but allows you to easily modify and play around with meshes. In there we would fix some spots and delete unwanted parts of the scan.

One reflection that comes from this project is how we have organised the workflow. It has worked nicely. The process was to scan, fix meshes, reposition coordinates (that we did it with Blender) and finally, because of the dimension of the 3D files, we reduced the quality of the textures (with Photoshop). When all the objects where ready we could deploy them on our Three.js space.

By the end of the week we haven’t been able to present the final website, but we have managed to have all the elements on the table, and specially get the 3D part done, that was the major challenge (thanks to Clément and Pietro). Now it is a matter of polishing the structure and aesthetics (mainly CSS), an that can be done by Jana and myself, as we have experience in that. Although I had avoided using JS in previous webs, this challenge has got me closer to it and I feel more prepared to explore it more in future projects.

You can see the whole documentation fo the project here.

You can see the future development and current state of the website here.

Week 18 - Invention, Intellectual Property, and Income

The format of this week’s class was rather interesting. I had never approached a topic, in an academic environment, where instead of receive information from the lecturers, we would do our own research and discuss different perspectives. It also reminded me on the embodied design methods that we explored with Holon on the second Term. It fel specially insightful to be able to compare direct opposite models, as it allowed for a much direct comparison and analysis.

The first presented case study was Zortrax, as a reference for a proprietary hardware model. “Zortrax is a Polish developer of comprehensive 3D printing solutions. It has built a strong position on the global market of desktop 3D printers, while also offering dedicated filaments, Z-SUITE software and additional devices to improve the printing process and post processing”. This case was presented, as said, as a closed hardware model, but it is interesting the universe created around it in terms of self-developed materials, software and their cloud service. I see the potential of a company like this when their products are applied to well stablished industries. When big companies (working on other fields) want to use 3D printing, it would become a very valuable option. In my opinion, a model like this is good when you don’t want to dedicate time to understand how the process works and just have specific needs. In that sense, they have 3D printing services that would work on some cases as well. You are missing a great deal of knowledge, but you are saving time and getting good results, it is a matter of compromise.

On the other hand we had the Prusa case, as an open hardware model. This case is astonishing, I didn’t know about it before MDEF and it is impressive. The company started small, and slowly became one of the best 3D printer makers in the world. It is remarkable they have done that being able to keep their open source model. Same as the previous case, they have been able to develop a range of 3D printers as well as distribute their own filaments. They also opened a maker’s space. It is a good example to prove that an open-model is not incompatible with a solid financial model.

On the spectrum of software, the first analysed case was Fusion 360, as a proprietary software model. It is develop by Autodesk, that inscribes it in a bast universe of compatible softwares developed by the company, expanding its usability and capabilities. Although following a traditional model, it could be said that in specific cases, such as students and personal use, Fusion 360 is free, they have a flexible subscription model, which make it affordable depending on the use you need it for.

The case my group focused was Blender, as an open software model. The software have a very interesting history, and it is deeply rooted on their community. That, and having into account how powerful the program is, makes it a very good tool for 3D modelling and animation. There are other cases, such as FreeCAD, that, although following a similar system, the programs are not such straightforward to use (or at least that is my experience). The difference with the open hardware model presented, Prusa, Blender doesn’t sell anything, maintaining a model like this is much more complex, by through donations, a basic cloud model, some services they offer to other companies and their own audiovisual productions, allows them to maintain themselves.

My conclusion is that de facto there is nor a good or bad model, but it all depends on the final product and how you want to use it. I appreciate open models, as they allow users to understand better the use and processes, but I also understand that in some cases you may not be interested in that and just want the job done. As long as the final outcome is good and usable the best model depend on particular cases.

Week 17 - Applications and Implications

In terms of applications and implications, I am going to reflect on the final intervention we have been working with Jana. From an initiated research project on objects’ biographies, and how we understand the inscription of design into the world. As part of it, we engage in an exercise where we posed (slightly) different questions to designers in order to make them reflect on the death of objects and its relation to their practice. The exercise revolved around a box that would gather objects introduced by them physicalising their reflections.

Our interest in this project comes from the research presented by Ron Wakkary on Nomadic Practices and biographies. We wanted to explore the best way to share this epistemological knowledge and embed it in the design practice. We based the project on the agency of objects and embodied reflections.

The project began from the first challenge, where we laser cut the box that we would move around, gathering the pieces that would compose the final collection of physicalised reflections. The design is fairly simple, as we are not trying to develop a specific design, but provoke others to engage with our exercise and goals. For designing it we used an online application that allows you to personalise various designs according to your needs (see documentation fem challenge 1).

We have prepared four boxes so far, on an interactive process to pose different questions. All of them are 4 mm cardboard and in some, we used cut vinyl as a template to paint some graphics. We have been using new cardboard sheets from the Fablab. Although it started as just a practical exercise, it is not very sustainable to use a brand new sheet every time. It would be nice to reuse old cardboard, although the needed dimension is quite big and it is not easy to find these dimensions around. The last two boxes that we have made don’t have any graphics, so they could be reused for future iterations, just by changing the instructions inside.

For the moment the exercise has been very fruitful, and we have gathered very interesting objects with our boxes. At the moment we have the last two moving around and, when we got them back, would like to exhibit all the objects along with their reflections. We would also like to invite participants to debate and share the experience.

Week 16 - Wildcard Week

Unfortunately, I had an important appointment this week for the wildcard session. I am really sorry I couldn’t attend because I was very interested in experimenting with welding as I mentioned to Santi some weeks ago.

I went through the documentation to grasp the topics presented. When going over the composites references and images, I realised that we actually had that experience in the first term when we did the project Stool-19 with Jana. The project revolved around the idea of exposing the excess waste from single-use face masks, and speculate on possible new materials emergent from that. We shredded about 100 face masks and mixed them with epoxy resin (we did the first iteration with pine resin but didn’t quite succeed. Almost seven months later it is still not completely dry and sticky…). The final outcome was the seat for a stool that we exposed in the public street.

I was looking forward to this week’s experience with welding. I have a great interest in learning as, although it may not be the most useful fabrication method, the final results are very appealing to me, and thinking in terms of long-termism is a good material if wisely treated. In that sense this week I made some exploration on different technics and feasible ways to adapt a non-specific industrial space to work with this technique, as well as be able to communicate with artisans that could aid future projects.

Marc Morro (2021) Taburete 8 China

Week 15 - Interface and Application programming

In my opinion, this week’s topic was too difficult to frame as a weekly assignment. There is a broad spectrum of languages and software to get to design interfaces. I haven’t fully understood how it can be framed as just one “technology”. I feel this topic is more a matter of design (however you understand it, I don’t want to get into the debate now) rather than a skill to be learned.

There are so many different languages that it doesn’t seem to have much sense to focus on neither of those before having a clear what and why are you doing a project. Design should not be restricted by tools but assisted. First, you have to understand why are you using an interface, what is its purpose, how is the best way for the users to interact with it, as well as understanding their experience with the system. Once all that is defined, you can find the best tool (language, code, software, display…) for that purpose. Do an unrestricted design process and later get into the best-suited technology.

That being said, I have had an interest in learning how to interact with Processing. It seems a very capable and affordable tool to play around with interactive experiences. I have seen some great projects developed with it. Still, I haven’t had time to ever get fully in contact with it and play with it and learn. Same with OpenFramework. Maybe in the future, I can have some more headspace for them.

Week 14 - Networking and Communication

First of all, I want to reflect on how difficult it is to keep focused on the weekly classes when we are in the middle of a challenge. I feel it is complex to balance both things and be focused on the class when in your head you have the milestone for that week’s goal. It tends to lead to disconnection during the class as we have too many things to deal with. The same thing that all our other classes and assignments are postponed during that monthly week, I feel FabAcademy should take a similar approach in the future.

I had never reflected on the topic presented this week. Everything was new and I felt quite lost. At the same time, I personally think it was a little out of scope from my interests, as well as seeing a way on which it will be applied (in the depth and extend it was presented).

Still, although feeling quite lost during the class, going over the documentation on FabAcademy’s page has been useful. It is a complex topic to deal with. We live surrounded by networks, waves, and wires, but we don’t notice them at all (or at least I don’t). We live in the era of information, or that is what is said. The documentation has to help me grasp better the topics, but still feels too much, and I am not sure how these are going to be embedded in my project or future practice.

As mentioned while Santi asked for our feedback on the organisation of the FabAcademy, we had this week the opportunity to have a hands-on exercise during the class. It has proven its value, and, although there was some complication, I appreciate the effort to include our feedback, and seek improvement from FabLab.

Challenge 3 - Interactions and Communication

This week’s challenge has been the first where an actual challenge (other than the use of the presented technologies) was posed. I felt quite complex to tackle at the beginning. From deconstructing what impact means for us and finding nexus within our projects and interests (among Krzysztof’s, David’s and mine’s) we got to frame a concept I felt very comfortable with.

We defined the set of interests on provoking design professionals (studios, companies…) to reflect on their practice. We exposed them to a self-assessment device. A set of topics of interest would be defined by the different profiles using it. The device will be used after every project has ended (input), and by engaging with it, it will bring about reflection on those preset topics. Form the accumulation of evaluations, an average is displayed (output) so you can grasp how your practice is in relation to the set of interests, as well as see it evolve through time.

I am very interested in understanding how the role of design is changing, and working on different ways to provoke designers to derive their practice in relation to the posthuman condition, that has been explored in the past years in the field of philosophy. How this knowledge can be conveyed into the design practice, and thus have an effect on how we are related to the planet and among a broad spectrum of humans.

This device is helpful as it allows to introduce the topics, discuss them, and reflect on their application into the design practice. As well as seeing how it moves towards more interconnected and responsible approaches to design.

I feel this week has felt quite good compared to past ones, as we had a very good motivation and clear structure of work. That does not mean we didn’t have to put in a lot of hours, but they were much better used towards a quite engaging and exciting goal. At the same time, I have a feeling that everyone was quite happy with their projects and the Lab had a great ambiance, sharing our work and helping each other out among groups.

The work-group has been very smooth during the whole week. I am happy to have taken in charge the electronics. Although, of course, I have required help to make it happen (thanks Pietro here), as I expressed in past weekly reflections, it feels like my weakest point. The only way to soak up the knowledge is by practice. I have dedicated a lot of my hours to it, from Arduino to soldering and wiring, as well as having time to learn from conversations through the project, and sharing with my teammates.

Another topic I would like to reflect on is the fact that we managed to include practicing with the Precious Plastic sheet press. We needed to develop the casing, and where shuffling among different materials, acrylic, wood… Seeing Jasmin’s and Pietro’s group work on with the PP sheet-press, and being helping out a little bit, made us think about replicating the technique for our own project. It had been a long time since I have wanted to use the press (as well as other PP machines that I still want to get to play with) and the process and result were very satisfactory. Although it took a couple of iterations and some post-treatment (sanding and lacquer) I feel very happy with the final result, and it defiantly gives a plus to the end prototype.

You can see the whole documentation of the project here.

Week 13 - Output Devices

When a couple of weeks ago we were working on the second micro challenge, a big part of our interest, in conceptual terms, was on the output. How to translate these non-human inputs we were looking for, into a clear output that would serve as a speculative prove of its voice. At that point, I believe I have already repeated too many times in my weekly reflections the aim of the project. We, of course, didn’t have the time to either fully define them or work on them, as we focused on other technologies and techniques.

This next week we will have the time to think about what possible outputs can serve us on our purpose. I feel this week's session hasn’t been enough for our specific intentions.

The first output devices we saw were electromagnetic fields. Although it has been interesting to unpack how motors (in the different types presented) work, we have dedicated too much time to those and haven’t had time for other applications such as speakers, which (for our project) would have been more interesting. Still, understanding the concept of electromagnetic fields, and after doing some research on my own, helps grasp how they work. Even after understanding the concept, it is still mind-blowing how these small movements of the membrane translate into sound…

In a similar sense, I would have appreciated to spent more time on electroluminescent output devices. I feel having a better understanding of these, especially on LCD screens would help. I believe we have a session in the future on interfaces, I will be very interested, not only in learning how to program them and make them work, but to unpack them and understand the “insides”.

From previous conversations with Krzysztof, some possible outcomes we had sketched were auditive and visual. It is very probable that we end installing a speaker this next week, although I would like to give a thought on buzzers, as they may serve a similar purpose and could also allow some room for interpretation (as we are working in a very abstract field). The use of LEDs or an LCD screen could be also an option we may explore, as visuals outcomes also can foster discussion, the end goal of our concept.

Week 12 - Moulding and Casting

I worked with moulding during my undergraduate degree. We were mostly focused on machined metal moulds for plastic injection. Although those ones are aimed at much bigger industrial processes, the concepts for un-moulding and the design of the different parts, especially the inner parts of the mould, were really helpful to grasp the concept and apply it to the much more affordable approach FabLab takes.

What I have taken from this week’s session, and that I would have to spend time in the future to be more comfortable, are the different materials used. Different, waxes, silicones, rubbers, release agents…. I am really taking Edu’s recommendation to spend time with the material’s data-sheet, I realise how important it can be, as the behaviour of the materials can really differ from one to another.

The practical session, and getting a full perspective of the table where we did the demonstrations and experimentation, made me reflect on the sustainability of the practice. On one hand, if the mould is properly done and can work for a great number of pieces, you are making the most from the resources. Still, it would be interesting to understand and keep in mind how the wax used is produced and chemically treated. The same goes for the different casted materials. I am not sure how silicon or rubber can be recycled, and how complex these processes are. The reflection would go deeper on why do we produce the pieces, and to make sure is the best option.

I didn’t get the chance to get Josep’s CAM session. I believe though, that the important part here is to practice rather than watch. So, although I missed that, I am pretty sure when it comes to the moment to design I would take greater learnings from that. I assume the concepts are pretty similar to what we got from the experience with the CNC a couple of weeks ago and with the second challenge.

I wonder how this will be deployed on the challenge. I feel it is going to be a great amount of work to be developed in parallel to other technologies and concept that has been presented, such as electronics, programming or sensing.

As always, I feel motivated to get the concepts into practice and learn from the process. I am looking forward to designing my first mould. I would like to try metal casting. It always felt very apart and out of range without an industrial complex, but I have come to realise it is feasible at a Fab Lab scale. Another interest I have had for some time and would like to explore is concrete casting. I don’t have a clear objective, but I have seen really cool projects with it and the aesthetics of concrete are captivating for me.

Week 11 - Input Devices

In a similar sense that I did on my past reflection on week 8 of Embedded Programing, I would like to come back to how inspiring I find the Arduino project. With this week’s presentation on sensors, it pushes its potential a level up, as in the moment that you can make interact a computer program with the real world, its potentiality grows. 

Being able to sense inputs from the environment can make your projects much more valuable, as they have a direct relationship with their context, and, if the output goes in that same direction, the relation is complete. The interaction is much more meaningful, and I may come philosophical here, but you are integrating the computer as another actor in the system, creating a new form of understanding how we design within a network of humans and non-humans. 

I find it super interesting to explore the gap between us and things. There is an inherent vital nature on how things approach the world, distinct to ours but in some sense shared or similar. How non-humans approach constructed worlds in a similar way that we as humans do so. This goes along with the concept of the “cyborg intentionality” by Peter-Paul Verbeek (Verbeek, PP. (2008). Cyborg intentionality: Rethinking the phenomenology of human–technology relations. Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences 7, 387–395.). His article investigates the types of intentionality involved in human–technology relations. He distinguishes and analyses three types of “cyborg intentionality,” which all involve specific blends of the human and the technological. Technologically mediated intentionality occurs when human intentionality takes place “through” technological artefacts; hybrid intentionality occurs when the technological actually merges with the human; and composite intentionality is the addition of human intentionality and the intentionality of technological artefacts. 

Sensors can be seen as a tool to embrace technological intentionality. When it comes to digital sensors, it is interesting to think that two or more computers are communicating with each other, in a non-human language, that is out of our scope, but still, occurring in the same context and in a shared stage. 

This human non-human exploration was what Krzysztof and I were tackling on the second challenge. Understanding sensors as more than just input devices, and acknowledging their potentiality in post-humanist design terms and research, will become a great reflexive and practical exercise when we iterate on the speaker for non-humans, that we were working on, in the next challenge week.

Week 8 - Embedded Programming

Electronics and coding are probably where I am struggling more on Fabacademy. I almost don’t have any experience with them and, although I understand the very basics, I don’t feel comfortable taking on projects in that direction. Knowledge comes from practice but I am not finding the space nor time to test and “play” around to become more comfortable.

I appreciate the introduction to digital electronics presentation. We are surrounded by them and couldn’t live without them, but still have very low literacy. Reflection on that is kind of scary, to be surrounded by black boxes that you need, but you don’t have any knowledge or power over them. The approach from Fab Lab and other open communities is very inspiring and makes me want to dedicate time to explore more and gain knowledge in that sense.

Another thing that gets my attention are flow charts, as the simplified idea of algorithms. Unpacking those into flow charts makes them much more understandable. A little bit in the direction I mentioned before, doing this exercise of simplifying operations makes you feel less dependant on black boxes and empowers you. I also like the use of flow charts as a way for sketching ideas and plans of action, although it is not related to algorithms I find it a very useful exercise in many contexts.

I wouldn’t say I have knowledge of programming or coding. Although I have had some small experiences with it in the past, I don’t know how to write in any programming language. That being said, I feel more or less comfortable when it comes to reading it. I feel like I understand the use of control flows statements, and I think that is core in understanding how the program manages the inputs and actuates on the outputs.

I want to find time to dedicate to Arduino programming. For a long time, I have known the project and now with Fabacademy and Fab Lab, I am understanding its incredible potential. It feels like you can do anything with it, and their philosophy and approach really motivates me. I need time to better understand its capabilities, and most importantly, how to program in Arduino IDE. I need time for that.

We will see if for the third challenge, and building upon the second one, I can dedicate myself to programming and have practical experience. I have to admit I am a little bit scared, as there is going to be a lot to do, learn and practice in only one week.

Challenge 2 - Production

For this second challenge, with Krzysztof, we have worked towards a common interest regarding posthuman design and exploring the topic of giving voice to non-human actors. The topic comes from previous discussions and the reflection and debate we have had to formalise the idea has been an interesting journey.

To tackle this complex idea, we have gone for a very speculative artefact. The idea has been to develop a speaker, that will be attached to the non-human actor, and through different inputs (mainly audio), amplify its “voice”. The idea, more than gather data or develop into a technical device, is more of staging the concept. Making you reflect on what it is doing and how and why we should give them a voice. To put them in a central stage position, dedicate time and, as humans, become passive during the intervention.

We have sketched a very realistic approach for this week acknowledging how much work we have from other aspects of the master, as we are finishing this term. We decided to not focus on electronics yet (leaving it for future challenges) but to work on a prototype that we can build upon and adapt to further development. Although having decided on this approach, we have been consulting and understanding how the electronics will have to work. We have been recollecting the basic materials we will need for future iterations.

I am happy with the approach taken. We have been realistic, and from the experience, we got from the first challenge, which was quite stressful, we have developed a realistic plan, that has allowed us to be more focused on each process and enjoy more this challenge.

Another aspect I would like to reflect on has been the CNC experience. We were ideating a very simple cover for the speaker that we were planning to 3D print. Edu’s feedback and reflection have led to a much appealing result. Also much more complex, but that has allowed, thanks to him, to have a very complete experience with the CNC and experience different and complementary aspects.

Having already experience with the 3D printer, from my background, it has been nice to be back to it. It was a long time since I had used one and it has been good to go back to it. The process has been smooth, as the piece was very straightforward. I am really impressed with the machined we used, the biggest one on the Fab Lab, with a 0,6 mm nozzle. The result was super good and it is super fast. I would like to work more with it.

I am looking forward to keeping iterating on this process with Krzysztof. I am happy to be working on a speculative project, which I am finding to be a very interesting experience. I want to see where we go and what inputs can we get and see how we translate them. Let us see what non-humans out there have to say to us!

You can see the whole documentation of the project here.

Week 7 - Computer Controlled Machining

Having a CNC machine in a Fab Lab looks like a basic for each one out there. It is a great machine to have and the flexibility it offers in the lab is key to most of the projects. Having the opportunity to easily cut material in large format allows you to really push the limits of your ideas.

Although I didn’t have the opportunity to get the class on RhinoCAM, as I have already said in past reflections, knowledge will come from practice, so I’m looking forward to experimenting with it in the second challenge, with some support.

I see the potential of CNC much broader than what we will be able to try while the challenge next week, and it would be great to have time to play around with the machine on different designs or more simple ideas. Another thing to keep in mind and I have noticed is the unused material the machine lefts after the piece is produced. It would be helpful to produce the files, not according to each one, but as a bigger group to optimise the resources, although it could really make things much more complex. Just a thought.

I think it would be also interesting (although I understand the limitations of materials and time) to try different materials on the CNC, for instance, metal. I feel that seeing how the machine needs to be set up according to different materials would be a way to deeply understand the technology.

I am wondering if the workflow used in Fab Lab Barcelona is the same everywhere, this would define the distributed application of knowledge in different contexts. Another limitation I see with this technology is the requirements of it, the price and space required, how transferable are the knowledge and documentation in these terms?

Finally, I have enjoyed the exercise in preparation for next’s week challenge where we have shared our thought on it and have had interesting peer-to-peer feedback. I think we need to communicate more with each other when it comes to talking about the projects we are working on.

Week 6 - Electronics Design

Electronics has never been my strongest skill. I would really enjoy learning more, especially by doing, but, with all the projects that are going on, it is difficult to juggle everything and find time to practice, fail, experiment, and “play” around.

I really appreciate this week’s class but I feel I am missing a basis of theory to be able to develop e with the tools presented. I am lacking a great deal of understanding of the different electronic components, their characteristics, and the values and functions of those. I am aware that the only way to learn all this and find myself in a more comfortable situation is by practicing. Getting hands-on and trying out, looking for information, or finding help from the Fab Lab people, but I don’t see when I will have enough time to put in the necessary hours of dedication.

I am expecting in two weeks, when the second challenge, that I will be able to put the time into it. I really appreciate this week’s head’s up on the challenge, and that we have been forced to start organising ourselves, find topics of interest and possible collaborations. I feel this will help during the challenge week, which looks like it is going to be quite intense.

Let's see if this context of Fab Lab focus in two weeks lets me dedicate the time needed in the electronics design. Starting by using pencil and paper for the design and deeply understand the process, for later coming to the digital design of the PCB. I want to test KiCad in a real case-scenario, as well as EAGLE, that I understand is better, in terms of user experience and simplicity. It is always nice to use open-source products, but if Autodesk’s option is simpler, maybe it is a better starting point, especially as it is embedded in Fusion 360 that we have already been using for CAD design.

Week 5 - 3D Scanning and Printing

For a long time I couldn’t think further from 3D printing when talking about digital fabrication. Of course since I have been in contact with the fab lab I have understood how further it goes from that, but still it is a great tool and I find it crucial to know how to work with it, not only using the machines (and understanding the different type you can use) but also know how to design according to the technology and parameters of your machines at reach.

Also this week I am happy to have been introduced to 3D scanning. I knew about it on a very superficial level, but never payed much attention to it. It has been great to see different ways and softwares to get the scans done. It has been great to see Daphne’s work, a more abstract and artistic approach. It is a super interesting perspective on other ways to see, present, and understand objects and surroundings. I want to play around with this idea in mind, I don’t have anything in mind yet, and I am not sure where I will get time for it, but it is definitely going in the pending list of things to try.

With SLA I was in a similar position of the 3D scanning, knowing of it but not really understanding it. It has been great to get Edu’s explanation on it, and I believe I really understand now how it works. Still, I would need clearer examples and experience of when to use it, as I see it as a much more complicated process than the FDM, specially for the treatment you have to give to the piece when printed to refine it.

From my experience in industrial design, I was already familiarised with FDM 3D printing process. I had some previous experience, but the level of experimentation and research in the fab lab, in relation to hardware and materials, is impressive. I never reflected before on the different ways you could design machines, and the differences between these approaches.

One of the most important take aways from this week is the idea of designing according to the production method. Taking into account how are you going to print, what are the machines available you have, and its characteristics, nozzles, base dimensions, bridges, supports… Mikel showed us a couple of pieces by BCN3D that didn’t had round holes, but with a 45 degree angle in the top, to close it. This was done to avoid having to put supports, but the function of the hole was unchanged. It was a small example but really stick with me in relation to the idea to design for 3D printing.

I wanted to play around with the slicer software, to start getting more familiar with it. I had this model of a chair designed by Enzo Mari, the Seggiolina Pop, so I prepared to be printed, just to have a test. I realised I needed lots of supports so I did a proposition on how to print it without supports in two pieces. It actually turned out to be way faster too.

Week 4 - Elecronics Production

Maybe last week the station formats was a little bit chaotic at some points, but this weeks approach has been much better, and although we had our heads focused on the challenge we have been doing, the approach was great.

When we worked on the first term on the Almos Useful Machines course I had my first contact with soldering. They weren’t good at all, but they worked. The introduction this week has been very nice because the approach with PCBs soldering is much more clean, and although it is more complex than working with breadboards, it a much better solution. I felt comfortable soldering, I still need much more practice, but I will get there!

The station lead by Oscar, on electronics theory was great. I have been thought the Ohm’s law a thousand times, but I never seem to remember the theory of everything. Oscar is a great teacher, his explanations are very good and understandable. It was also great to do small hands-on experiments while we were talking, as practice makes knowledge much more easily understood.

I always thought of PCBs as industrial products, so complex, I didn’t even reflect on how they where manufactured. With the milling station and the end, it was great to unpack this process, and deeply understand it. Although at an industrial level the production is much small scale and way more complex, doing the PCBs at the lab helps understand it and be able to extrapolate the process.

I feel this topic is going to be a great effort to include it to the next challenge, not only for the electronic design (that we haven’t worked on yet) but at all the process of milling and soldering, that looks very time consuming specially since I haven’t any previous experience. Looking forward to it, but I asumen I will have to be very thoughtful of the time I have and the time I need in order to fulfil the project.

Challenge 1 - Digital to Prototyping

It was great to work with Jana in this challenge. I feel we have similar ways to work and understand the design practice, as well as shared interests in design and arts. Comparing our Purpose Driven Messaging exercise we did with Kate, we got to find common areas of interest and were able to find a common thread to follow.

We ended up defining a very simple object, but with a big concept behind. We decided to create a box to critically reflect on the design practice, that will circulate among a local network of professionals and gather knowledge as it was moving around (see the link to the GitLab documentation below for more information).

My reflections will go more on how we approached the project. We directly thought of a technique and designed according to it. We spend too much time testing and not so much thinking on how we where approaching it. We got a very frustrating day of infinite test and zero results, and the following, just by changing the design, everything ended up working.

Now that I see it in perspective, maybe the chosen technique wasn’t the best suited, we went for stencil, and I believe designing for screen-printing would have had a better replicability and could have been perfectly achieved with the final development.

The good part of the frustrating tests, was that we got a lot of time to work with the Multicam Laser Cutter. I wasn’t able to see it working last week, and this one, gave me a lot of confidence to work with it and with different materials.

I am very happy with the result, specially because it was part of our project intervention for the master, and it was very meaningful. The box is already moving and I am looking forward to see how it evolves. We still have to think on the evolution of it, how it is going to “end” and how the results are going to be shared, but I think that as the project keeps moving we can slowly define it, not only us, but the people that will be participating.

You can see the whole documentation fo the project here.

Week 3 - Computer-Controled Cutting

I took part in the pre-course of the master in September. There, we already had an introduction to the Computer Controlled Cutting (CCC), but we went by very gently. This week has been a much proper introduction to it. The stations approach proposed by the faculty really made thing go smoothly, really appreciate having a more close and intimate look at the different tools presented.

In the first station, we got the opportunity to find more on the Trotec laser cutters. What mostly impresses me about them is how accessible they are. Such a powerful tool that works the same as a desktop printer. This accessibility really helps when you have to do a lot of test before you cut your final document.

The software or online tools presented by Edu where also very valuable. It is amazing the amount of work people share in order to make your life easier, make you reflect on your practice and how sharing your knowledge can help in others work. I ended up with a long list of tools, that may come very handy once I have a specific project where needed.

From the vinyl cutter station I took two interesting learnings. First understand that it is not just a tool to print stickers, it can do much more, you just have to know how and where to use it. I also was impressed by its us in the screen-printing technique. In my head, this technique was always out of reach, for the chemical process you had to go by to get your screen ready, a the cost and infrastructure to do so. I really never thought on the approach they have at the Fab Lab, to merge it with the stencil idea, thus printing a vinyl, sticking it to the screen, and then printing. It makes is more easy to set up and also lets you easily reuse the screens.

I haven’t had time to use the Multicam 2000, it looks much more complex than the Trotecs. I think that if the time comes, if I need such a big surface to cut something, I will have a dive in experience, but, if for the moment I can manage to use the Trotecs, I feel they are much more accessible.

I am looking forward for the first challenge next week. This methodology looks interesting, as it spaces things a little bit, and get to use the machines in an actual and meaningful context, or projects, what makes it a much valuable experience and helps understanding how to use them.

Week 2 - Computer-Aided Design

My background as an industrial designer experience and education already gave me capacities on 2D and 3D design. Although I have mostly worked with commercial software products, I am willing to migrate to open-source tools, as seeing this week proposals it is astonishing the possibilities of tools such as Inkscape or Gimp as well as Blender or FreeCAD. What I am afraid is of the learning curves and the time I will have to dedicate to learn this new tools, taking in account the amount of work that we have to do for the master.

I have always been prompt when coming to 2D sketching or ideating to start hand-drawing. I haven’t used much 2D design programs in that sense, but, as I have never worked with laser cutters or a CNC, it will be interesting how, when projects start to formalise, I will have to develop the technical files for this machines. I want to have a clear purpose, not use them just to test, but with a goal to understand and explore further the technology.

From my background as industrial designer I have designed a lot with 3D softwares —specially SolidWorks—. The space that the FabLab offers its an opportunity to get out of the computer and start exploring 3D design and shapes in a practical way. I am not renouncing to 3D design, but I want, as said regarding 2D design, to explore a more hands-on approach.

The presentation of Blender by Victor was really inspiring, the greatness of the project and how advanced it is really surprises me. I had used the tool before (too long ago to remember anything though…) but never reflected in the project and how it has become what it is now. The amount of people willing to dedicate time for this open-source project it’s really inspiring. It makes me value much more these tools.

Although I very impressed and curios for Blender I am still learning Rhino. I come from a different background of tools (SolidWorks mostly). As I said before it is difficult to find time for new learning. I may be keep focused on Rhino, for the moment I am more advanced in it, and I see it as a more meaningful tool for my design practice. I will keep in mind Blender but, for the moment, I don’t see how I could approach it now.

The last months in the master I have been reflecting and thinking more than actually designing (or at leat 3D designing). I have taken this week’s assignment as an excuse to go back to it. Some time ago I was sketching some crazy ideas inspired by Italian postmodernist works such as Ettore Sottsass’s or Gaetano Pesce’s. Because I don’t have a clear definition of my FabAcademy project, I have taken this opportunity to 3D model one of this ideas and also practise with Rhino.

Here you can see the sketch, my Rhino work and a final render presentation (with Rhino and Photoshop).

Week 1 - Principles and Practices, Project Management

This is a brand new website! I am happy to share it with you all and hope you enjoy it. At the begging of the last term, I began working on my previous website design and was pretty happy with it, but I knew it was not definitive. This new term has started more easily and I have had time this week to get on with my new proposal.

I wanted this website to be more computer-oriented but still to work fine on phones. I know the main purpose of this website is for showing our work with peers and faculty, and they would mostly do so from their computers, but still, I believe is a good practice to always think in all the possible devices where your site can be displayed.

With the new design, I wanted to work with the concept of brutalist websites. I really enjoy these designs and, as a self-imposed brief, I wanted to force myself into exploring this direction. I may be doing some improvements in the future but for the moment I feel quite happy with the result! I wanted also to reflect on the old-school idea of blogs but making sure to be accessible and easy to navigate. The use of #id I believe is a good common point and helps in that direction. Will see how when more and more content is added this approach works…

The most challenging part was to achieve this partition on the screen when scrolling. It has been quite interesting trying to figure out how to do it only with the use of HTML and CSS. I don’t know javascript, and I am sure it would have helped here, but I feel there is something romantic on just using bare code, feel free to explore how it is done (or correct my approach).

I am looking forward to adding more content to it, as I believe time and evolution will be of great help to understand this design proposal and new iterations may emerge. I want also to see how it looks with images, right now is a bit boring only with text, content and time will tell. This design is just the first version of many to come (I hope!).

For this complete redesign, I missed the opportunity to explore the version control protocol, it could have been a great opportunity to work with it. I haven’t had the opportunity yet to explore it and I am looking forward to adopting it as good practices. I was too focused on the code and not so much on the git this time, now that I have the base done I can build on top and learn more of git.

In general this week I’m happy with the results and can’t wait to fill this brand new framework in the following weeks! Feel free to share any comment on the website, from form to usability to aesthetics or the code itself!